Over 1.3 million weapons believed to have been smuggled into Ghana are not registered, according to preliminary investigations conducted by the Kofi Annan International Peace-keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC).
The chairman of the Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Brigadier General Francis Agyemfra, disclosed this at a political dialogue on Small Armed Violence at Dodowa on Tuesday.
He expressed concern about the security of the state, and called for measures to retrieve the weapons without delay.
“We are very much concerned about the spread of illicit arms and their possible impact on our democracy, especially, those that can be triggered by violence,” Brigadier-Gen. Agyemfra stated.
The Executive Secretary of the Small Arms Commission, Mr. Jones Aplerh, said the findings by the KAIPTC were worrying.
“As at 2004, the number of illicit weapons was around 240,000,” he said.
Mr. Aplerh however, explained that the methodology used by the Kofi Annan centre might well have overblown the current illicit small arms figures.
Mr. Aplerh said the Kofi Annan Centre made its assessment of the number of small arms weapons in the country based on civilian weapons that have been licensed at the Small Arms Commission.
He said the current number of registered civilian arms stood at 1.2 million.
He said the Kofi Annan centre’s methodology “may give a clear picture or it may even be more than (the 1.3 million figure) or less than that”.
According to Mr. Aplerh, although the current number of small arms in the country per the latest report was worrying, it should not be the main focus.
“What we need to worry about is the demand-driven factors; the long-standing land and cheiftaincy issues,” he pointed out.
He said government agencies and other stakeholders must work together to settle disputes at violence hotspots.